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Steven J. Klearman
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Toyota Liable in Sudden Acceleration Case

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Toyota was recently cleared in a wrongful death lawsuit, but, an Oklahoma City jury found Toyota at fault in a 2007 case that involved a 2005 Toyota Camry suddenly accelerating and killing a passenger.

The Japanese automaker is required to pay $3 million to the driver as well as family of the deceased. The amount is intended to cover compensatory damages, but deliberations on punitive damages are still ongoing.

The second phase of the trial is the jury finding Toyota acted with “reckless disregard” for the rights of others. The prosecution alleged the Camry’s electronic throttle control system was defective and caused the car to enter an intersection and hit an embankment leading to the death of Barbara Schwarz. The case further contends that Toyota was aware of the problems but actively concealed that information from the public.

In 2012, Toyota agreed to pay more than $1 billion in a settlement to resolve hundreds of lawsuits that alleged economic losses suffered by Toyota owners when it recalled millions of vehicles for sudden acceleration. But, that settlement doesn’t include wrongful death claims and injury claims, of which, there are still hundreds more left. At this time it is not clear how this verdict will affect the remaining cases.